Asal Iban nemu adat ngayau

That night when everyone was quiet and asleep, a man came quietly to Remi’s bed and woke her. In surprise, Remi asked who the stranger was. She felt that his hair was as sharp as the quill of a porcupine; his nails were as sharp as knives, and his legs were as strong as a weaver’s beam. The stranger told her that his name is Damu (“hairy in the nostril”), and that his nickname was Rukok (“cobweb in the hollow of a bamboo”), a spirit that inhibits the sugar cane plant, whose smell is that of sinang. “I am Bujang, a great leader on the war path. I am also called Bujang Bula who carries his belongings in a basong basket; also known as mischievous bachelor who often goes first at the head of warriors. I came here because I heard you crying inconsolably late in the night.” (Damu ke bebulu idong nensang ka lubang, Rukok ke bejulok apok papong tengkiong, nempuah bau sinang, Bujang pasak jalu, pematak bala nyerang)

In her soft, gentle voice, Remi replied, “I am bound to weep sorrowfully, since I am now left helpless after the death of my three brothers who were killed in a raid by the Kantu people.”

“Oh! You need not worry about it,” said Rukok. “I am here in order to marry you, if you will consent.”

“How can I marry you when I am in sorrow,” replied Remi.

After a long conversation, Remi told the man that if he wished to marry her, he must seek permission from her father. Rukok then went outside to the gallery (ruai) where he waited for the aged Serapoh to come out from his room. In the early dawn, Serapoh came out and lit a fire at his fireplace on the gallery to warm himself. Rukok moved over and sat close to the old man, who immediately asked him who he was and the purpose of his visit. Rukok told him that he had came to ask permission to marry his daughter Remi. This request surprised Serapoh very much.

He immediately related to Rukok his sorrow after the death of his three sons. “If you are willing to pay me an honorable bride-wealth, then I will consent to your marriage with my daughter,” Serapoh said.

Rukok then asked Serapoh what should be an honorable bride-wealth for the marriage. Serapoh then said that he would give his consent to the marriage after he had collected as many Kantu head as possible. Hearing this, Rukok told Serapoh not to worry, as he is obliged to fulfill his wishes.

A few days later, Rukok set out with his brother-in-law named Sampar, the only surviving brother of Remi, and a few selected warriors to attack the Kantu people. Under Rukok leadership, the Iban successfully defeated the Kantu tribe and looted their country. The enemy heads were presented to Serapoh and with it the ritual to end the mourning period for his sons were performed and thereafter, Rukok and Remi’s marriage were solemnized.

After a very successful first raid, Rukok led three more major raids to other Kantu longhouses. Besides these wars, he also led numerous kayau anak, or smaller scale raids, against other tribe who allied themselves to the Kantu people. The Kantu, as well as their neighboring allies, were subjugate by Serapoh’s men and surrendered.

After the submission of the Kantu tribe, Rukok then started to teach Sampar on the proper conduct of war by a war leader as follows:

1. If a war leader leads a party on an expedition, he must not allow his warrior to fight a guiltless tribe which has no quarrel with them.

2. If the enemy surrenders he may not take their lives, lest his army be unsuccessful in future warfare, fighting empty handed war raids (balang kayau).

3. The first time that a warrior takes a head or captures a prisoner, he must present the head or captive to the war leader in acknowledgement of the latter’s leadership.

4. If a warrior takes two heads or two captives, or more, one of each must be given to the war leader; the remainder belongs to the killer or captor.

5. The war leader must be honest with his followers in order that in future wars he may not be defeated (alah bunoh)

When Rukok had finished giving those instructions to Sampar, he presented him with various charms for war expeditions.


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